The Master System (マスターシステム Masutā Shisutemu?), often called the Sega Master System or SMS, is a third-generation video game console that was manufactured and released by Sega in 1985 in Japan (as the Sega Mark III), 1986 in North America, 1987 in Europe and 1989 in Brazil. The original Master System could play both cartridges and the credit card-sized "Sega Cards," which retailed for cheaper prices than cartridges but had lower storage capacity. The Master System also featured accessories such as a light gun and 3D glasses which were designed to work with a range of specially coded games. The Master System was released as a direct competitor to the Nintendo Entertainment System in the third videogame generation. The Master System was technically superior to the NES, which predated its release by nine months in North America, but failed to overturn Nintendo's significant market share advantage in Japan and North America. In the European, Brazilian and Oceanic markets, this console allowed Sega to outsell Nintendo, due to its wider availability. It enjoyed over a decade of life in those territories and was supported in Europe up until 1996. Up until 1994, it was the console with the largest active installed user base in Western Europe, peaking at 6.25 million units in 1993. The console was redesigned several times both for marketing purposes and to add features, most notably in Brazil by Tectoy. The later Game Gear is effectively a hand-held Master System, with a few enhancements.
One of the most unusual features of the Master System is its dual media inputs: one cartridge slot and one card slot. The card slot accepted small cards about the size of a credit card, much like the later TurboGrafx-16. The cards and cartridges both serve the purpose of holding software. However, the cartridges had a much higher capacity, while the cards were much smaller (holding a maximum of 32k). Sega used the cards for budget games, priced lower than the typical game. Almost all cards are games, but the 3-D glasses card served an entirely different purpose. The 3-D glasses plug into the console via the card slot, and allow 3-D visual effects for specially designed cartridge games. In this fashion, both media inputs worked in tandem. The card slot was removed in the redesigned Master System II, providing support for only cartridges. This helped to reduce the cost of manufacturing the console since the cards were unpopular and few card-based games were made. Most of the card games were later re-released as cartridges. A floppy disk drive add-on for the original Master System was developed but was never released.
Browsing the Collection
There are 1008 images cartridges for the Sega Master System, including games, educational, applications, samplers and demos.To browse the collection of software, click this link.